Beautification Commission

To contact the Beautification Commission you may email: DarienBC@darienct.gov 

The Town does hereby create a Beautification Commission which shall consist of nine (9) members to be appointed by the Board of Selectmen for three-year terms commencing on December 1 of the year of their appointment.  (Code 1972, § 54-1; Res. of 9-25-1990; Amd. of 6-12-2018(3)

The Darien Beautification Commission was incorporated into the town government as a full commission in 1991 for the purpose of "stimulating and coordinating public and private actions for maintaining and improving the overall physical appearance of Darien." Commission members meet monthly to review current projects, plan new ones, and discuss issues related to the maintenance of the spring hanging baskets, 30+ islands along the town's roadsides and the Adopt-A-Garden program.

Members

Member Term Expires  Address
Juliet Cain (U) 11/30/2022 81 Locust Hill Road
Elizabeth Hall 11/30/2020 38 Sunset Road
Colleen Kalvaitis (R) 11/30/2022  21 Salt Box Lane
 Sue Okie (D) 11/30/2019  10 Raiders Lane
Alicia Peperone (U) 11/30/2023 14 Wilson Ridge Road
Amanda Segura (R)  11/30/2023 24 Tokeneke Trail
Jackie Stoddard (U) 11/30/2022 114 Nearwater Lane
Tracey Whitehead (R) 11/30/2022  17 Devonshire Drive

Darien Beautification Commission Gardens

The Darien Beautification Commission strives to create and maintain gardens around Darien using predominantly native plants, trees and shrubs. Native plantings create habitat for pollinators and require no synthetic chemicals. Most have deep root systems which help aerate the soil (making it better able to absorb and retain water to prevent erosion and flooding). These deep root systems also help filter and cleanse water. The Commission strives to remove invasive plants before working in any area but sometimes invasives appear after planting because seeds are dropped by birds or simply blown onto the area.

Recent work by the Beautification Commission includes “Habitat Hill” - the slopes either side of the staircase leading down from Town Hall to the Mather Center. Below are photos showing the start of work in late Spring of 2020. Public Works cleared out the scrubby juniper and extended the irrigation system to cover the area. We then laid jute across the irrigation pipes to help secure the soil and the plants until they are established. We cut holes in the jute to plant and then mulched the entire area.

The Darien Times reported on our plantings in August 2020.

We were lucky to have the talented Pam Chin donate a beautiful design for educational signage describing the importance of pollinators and each of the native plants and shrubs we planted. The sign also encourages residents to create similar, safe habitats for pollinators in their own backyards. Public Works erected the sign which was no mean feat given its size!

There is an old saying that in the first year the plants sleep, in the second they creep and in the third they leap but our plants started to leap from the get-go!

In the Fall of 2021, we commissioned the Senior Men’s woodworking shop to build four birdhouses for us and Public Works will be attaching them to the concrete walls at the top of the slopes. What would we do without Public Works?!

The Berm at Darien RR Station

The Berm at the Darien RR Station (the banks by Squab Lane on the Northbound side of the station) was planted by the Commission with many trees and shrubs a few years ago but has become overrun with invasives such as Japanese Knotweed, Mugwort and Tree of Heaven (a breeding ground for the Spotted Lanternfly). This summer (2022), the Commission will be starting an ambitious project to try to rid the Bern of these invasives without resorting to the use of chemicals. We will start by hand-pulling the invasives and once under some degree of control, we will solarize (cover with tarp), the affected areas for one to two years to suppress invasive growth. We will have help in the early stages of work from the Darien High School students interning with the Darien Pollinator Pathway.

Memorial Gardens

We currently look after two memorial gardens:

Amy’s Smile Garden

Amy’s Smile Garden is named for Amy Buffington McCann who passed away at the age of 45 in 2012. The memorial garden is named for the beautiful smile that her husband and three children always brought to her face. The garden was funded by donations from Amy’s family and friends to recognize her passion for gardening. We recently had help from the Scout BSA troop to clean up the garden!

The Varina Steuert Garden

In addition to her many artistic interests, Varina Steuert was an accomplished and award-winning gardener. She was President of the Garden Club of Darien which honored Varina following her death in 2012 by creating the Varina Steuert Award. This award is given each year to a member “whose consistent generosity, graciousness, and overall kindness in her service to the Garden Club has encouraged a spirit of friendliness, enthusiasm and devotion among the membership”. The Varina Steuert Garden was funded in Varina’s name in honor of her horticultural talents.

Partnerships

The Darien Beautification Commission works closely with local organizations generously wanting to contribute to the aesthetic and environmental beautification of Darien.

Noroton Heights RR Station – The Commuter Action Group

We have recently partnered with The Commuter Action Group which has donated funds to help us revitalize the two neglected beds between the parking lots on the Southbound side of the Noroton Heights RR Station. We have weeded and mulched and have planted a selection of colorful native plants, including white Echinacea, purple Anise Hyssop and pink Silene. We are hopeful that the deer won’t visit this urban space and will post more photos as we progress!

The Veterans’ Memorial Circle at Town Hall – The Garden Club of Darien

In 2021, the Garden Club of Darien allocated funds to replant, and to provide for some ongoing maintenance for, the Veteran’s Memorial Circle in front of Town Hall. We planted low shrubs, including Inkberry, Mountain Laurel (the Connecticut state flower) and Low Bush Blueberry at the front of the Circle so as not to obscure the memorials. We also planted pink phlox and pink tickseed to add some color at the sides.

Hanging Baskets

The Darien Beautification Commission is responsible for buying the colorful hanging baskets that adorn the lamps along the Post Road, at the beaches and in some of our parks.

Adopt A Garden

The Darien Beautification Commission coordinates the “Adopt a Garden” program which offers traffic islands, land alongside I- 95 ramps and well-traveled intersections to landscapers, businesses and other organizations to plant and tend. There are about 20 such gardens in Darien and several are available for adoption! We provide an attractive “Adopt a Garden” sign to our gardeners with the organization’s name and offer publicity as well.

The Commission would like to thank the following participants for their efforts:

Complete Design, Fine Gardens and Landscapes, Darien Board of Realtors, Darien Sail and Power Squadron, Foster’s Landscaping, The Growing Concern, Mateo Landscaping and Masonry, Oakstone Landscapers, Pawprints Market, Richard Jones Landscaping LLC, Ungemack McCool Landscapers, Urstadt Biddle and Woodland Partners.

Native Plants, Trees and Shrubs for Your Property

The Pollinator Pathway has a complete listing of native plants, trees and shrubs that are ideal for home landscaping. Also available for download are charts to show the bloom times of various plants through the seasons.

By planting native, you will enjoy a wide variety of pollinators – but be careful to avoid creating an “ecological trap” by luring pollinators with native plantings but harming them through the use of chemicals in your yard. These plants require no chemicals and by adding natives to your landscape, you will attract beneficial insects to keep at bay the ones you don’t want.

Invasive Plant Threats in Your Landscape

Here is a list of invasive plants species. This link also contains a calendar to show optimal times for non-chemical removal of the top ten invasive plants. Remember that when you remove an invasive, you are not only clearing it from your own property, but, assuming you remove it correctly, you will be helping prevent the spread of that plant across town.

The Parks and Recreation Commission and the Darien Pollinator Pathway are currently working to remove invasives in Cherry Lawn Park and around the Darien Nature Center. Theirs and our work will be so much more effective if we can address invasive shrubs and plants in our own yards. Replacing invasives with natives will also help create habitat and enhance biodiversity in Darien!

Public Works removed the last invasive shrub, Burning Bush, from Habitat Hill earlier this year.